SA cyclist Moolman-Pasio confident Tokyo Olympics will go ahead, aims for 'top result'

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South African cyclist Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Getty Images)
South African cyclist Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Getty Images)
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Olympian Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio hopes that this year's Tokyo Olympics will take place as she aims to make her country proud.
  • Sascoc is confident that the Games will commence in July despite calls for the event to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • Sascoc announced an initial squad of 64 athletes for this year's Olympics, intending to send a contingent of less than 300.

Olympic cyclist Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is looking to perform in what is most possibly her last Olympics in Tokyo.

Moolman-Pasio was one of the first names of Team SA's initial Olympic squad for this year's rescheduled Olympics, which is scheduled to get under way from 23 July to 8 August.

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) named an initial squad of 64 athletes in seven of Team SA's proposed 23 Tokyo Olympic disciplines - athletics, climbing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey (women and men), sailing and surfing.

The 35-year-old will compete in her third Games and hinted that Tokyo might be her last during Team SA's virtual press conference on Thursday.

Moolman-Pasio, who finished 10th at the 2016 Rio Games in the Women's Road Race event, hopes that her experience can help her get a top result.

"The Olympic Games is something that we work really hard towards, it's a four-year preparation or, in this case five. It's childhood dreams that we want to bring to reality," said Moolman-Pasio in the Sascoc virtual press conference on Thursday.

"I'm fortunate enough that this is my third Olympic Games and I have experience. I actually feel that it being my third Games, will give me the advantage to really go for the top result. The Olympic Games is very special event."

READ | After missing out on Rio 2016, SA Hockey hails Tokyo Olympics inclusion

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks remains calm and confident that this year's Olympics will go ahead despite calls for the event to be cancelled. 

Public sentiment in Japan is largely against holding the rescheduled Olympics as they continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) insists that July's Olympics will take place, saying an extensive rulebook will keep athletes and the Japanese public safe. 

"It's very clear when it comes to Covid-19 that Sascoc has to take into account the safety of the Japanese public. We, through the IOC, are engaging with the Japanese government and the city of Tokyo daily," said Hendricks.

"To date, the IOC has sent one simple statement that the Games are going ahead and will apply stringent protocols than call off the Games. Sascoc is willing to work within those stringent protocols."

Moolman-Pasio believes that the Olympics should go ahead as scheduled, based on various sporting events held successfully in bio-secure environments.

"Of cause I want to race in Tokyo, it's something I've been working towards and it will possibly be my last Olympic Games, so I really want to go there and make my country proud," added Moolman-Pasio.

"Obviously, we have to be responsible and respect the pandemic but around the world many sporting disciplines have demonstrated that sport can continue in a safe away alongside the pandemic.

"I do believe it can go ahead even with the pandemic and I'm hopeful that it'll go ahead. But I'll also understand if something had to change because of the pandemic."

Team SA has already started to roll out vaccines to the full Team SA delegation that have been accredited for the Tokyo Games.

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